In a newspaper interview last year, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau declared Canada could be the first post national state. “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,” he explained. He probably stopped short of saying that Canada wasn’t a country, merely a land mass that happens to be bordering the United States of America.
Does Canada have an identity?
When I asked a fourth-generation Canadian if he thought Canada lacked a real identity and had no mainstream culture, he looked bewildered at first, then irritated. “Ofcourse, Canada has an identity and there are things that are distinctly Canadian,” he said.
On the other hand I spoke with a Pakistani-Canadian immigrant a couple of years ago who insisted Canada had no identity, no culture and definitely no mainstream. His reasoning went like this: Since Canada was a land of immigrants all of whom have brought their culture and traditions and baggage to this country, there can be no mainstream culture because all cultures are mainstream. And we are an official multicultural society. “How can you ask new immigrants to integrate into the Canadian mainstream when there is no mainstream?” he reasoned.
Canada is “greatest hotel in the world”
As such a view has now been given a measure of legitimacy by immigrant-friendly Prime Minister Trudeau, who can blame the ever-increasing number of immigrants for thinking of Canada as “the greatest hotel in the world”? This observation was made by author Yann Martel 45 years ago.
Many new immigrants really think of this country as a wonderful hotel. They enjoy the accommodation, the great infrastructure and efficiency that comes courtesy of a good management but really don’t feel Canadian because there isn’t anything Canadian in the first place.
No wonder then few immigrants would encourage their children to consider joining the army, despite so many of them coming from army backgrounds back in their home countries. After all, why should any of their family members risk their lives for a country that has no real core identity? They are more likely then to actively join struggles of all kinds in the countries they left. They behave like tourists!
Globalization has weakened patriotism
Globalization, the movement of goods and people and above all the internet has all but made national borders pretty irrelevant. The rise of President Donald Trump and right-wing parties in Europe is a consequence of politicians and the global elite who have pushed this idea of post-nationalism under different names.
This post-national narrative works well with immigrants who are themselves often obsessed with retaining their cultures and traditions, this model encourages them to live within their own cultural eco-systems .
Who will give their lives for a post-national state?
The people who treat this country as their own are the ones who have few if any familial ties to Europe, descendants of early settlers and the waves of immigrants from Europe who came in large numbers right through the 50s when there was no universal healthcare. They are the ones who gave their blood, sweat and tears to build this country. They are the ones who continue to enlist in the army, whose parents and grandparents fought for this country and settled the land, they consider themselves proud Canadians and will have difficulty accepting the idea of a post-national state.
All this comes as Canada is gearing up to celebrate its 150 years as a federation. But many Canadians who’ve taken to the notion of this being the world’s first post-national country must have trouble figuring out what exactly they are to celebrate.